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GoingNuts 01-31-2009 08:23 AM

DIY Dash Removal
Ok, I am driven nuts by a rattle/movement in my dash. So I am going to rip the dash off. Right now I am in a bit of a dash rage, I don't care if I am going to break something. But I know I will regret it if I do break something.

I think that rattle has always been there but it was masked by other rattles in the car. I have eliminated various other rattles. Now this rattle has became the dominant one. It just sounded like a plastic piece is loosely mounted in there and it moves occasionally over rough road. The position of the rattle is estimated to be forward of the passenger airbag. Although I am not 100% sure at the moment. I taped up the passenger side rain wiper blade last night to eliminate that as a possibility, and it turned out the wiper wasn't responsible.

This job will be performed using information from TIS as well as this thread:


This job will be done over days, weeks, or even months (I am also trying to DIY a bathroom at the moment) while keeping the car in drivable condition for as long as possible until the moment the dash can come off. If at any time the rattle is located without the dash coming off, then the job will be aborted.

Pictures will be provided as I take apart the dash piece by piece.

BobSC 01-31-2009 09:57 AM

I feel your frustration!

Good luck with this and please keep us posted and with pics!

NicB. 01-31-2009 10:03 AM

hey man, as crazy as this sounds, there is a small piece of plastic in the dead center of the dash up in the front by the defrost vents that rattles a lot on my car. See if it might be your culprit

cgray4bmw 01-31-2009 10:29 AM

Had rattles with things getting in the dash air vents that drove me crazy,,, try getting a ear piece like the doctor wears(dont know what there called) at your part store,, with a long pipe connected and Isolate your rattle..

GoingNuts 01-31-2009 11:31 AM

15 Attachment(s)
The rattle is definitely on the passenger side and not in the center. It's close enough to the edge that I couldn't quite tell if it's the dash, side mirror, or the door. I have already taken apart the door and didn't find anything. I am on to it, and this rattle is going down.

Paint striping blade sandwiched by a couple of creditcards

Got an opening to allow pulling off of trim by hand

Trim was off. One of plastic grommets refused to let go of the metal stud. So It's ripped off.

This was what was under the trim

Blade taped up with duct tape to offer some protection to the trim

On to the central trim

A couple of screws holding the side air vents in place. Undid both.

Wriggled the vent and it was off

Now the driver side trim

Not much room to work with and the blade was too flexible. A stiff screw driver shaft was needed.

It's off but the left grommet ripped. Also note the single screw holding the right vent in place.

Took quite a bit of wriggling to get the right hand side vent off after undoing the screw holding it in place. There were some glue on the connecting foam at the back of the vent causing it to stick.

Au2bahn 01-31-2009 11:49 AM

Great additional DIY as your pics are a lots clearer.

GoingNuts 01-31-2009 11:58 AM

5 Attachment(s)
6 screws holding the glove box at the indicated positions. Undoing these allowed the glove box to be taken off.

Power connector to the glove box light on the left front of the glove box disconnected and the wire taken off

Power connector to the torch on the rear right of the glove box disconnected and the wire taken off. Now the glove box could be taken out of the car.

NE1L 01-31-2009 12:13 PM

I have the exact same rattle in my car (320Cd Sport). I also suspect it is behind the passenger airbag, but I cannot seam to remove the passenger airbag cover. Perhaps it is a clip for that cover that is the cuprit? I removed the glove box well over a year ago to get my hand up in that area, but it was not much use in diagnosing to problem. I will be keeping an eye on this thread as this rattle is driving me nuts. Best of luck.

GoingNuts 02-01-2009 12:16 PM

7 Attachment(s)
The battery was disconnected for this step to avoid the the passenger airbag going off.

The airbag cover was held in place mostly by friction and a small and easily broken off plastic retaining pin. The cover could be opened with a yank.

The plastic pin had to be broken to open the over. It must be replaced. Once the cover was open, it was pulled in the direction indicated to take off.

The cover was connected to 4 straps. The front straps had to be unbolted. The TIS indicated torque for these bolts were 9Nm.

The rear straps were connected to a bar mounted underneath and behind the airbag by the same bolts the airbag was mounted on. The toque for these were 22Nm.
To completely remove the cover, the airbag must be dismounted, moved aside, and the bar for the rear straps removed. The air bag could then be remounted, without needing to be disconnected or cause any airbag light showing on the cluster.

The retainer that a retaining tab on the cover slotted into. This helped to align the cover when mounted.

The broken retaining ping. This must be replaced. Once broken this became a source of rattle when the cover was remounted without a new pin.

The cover taken out. The head of the broken retaining pin could be rotated to take out and a new pin put in its place.

NE1L 02-02-2009 06:26 PM

Excellent detail on the passenger airbag cover removal, thanks very much. I will give it a go when I get some half decent weather, and hopefully find this damn rattle. A very good DIY all round and with excellent photos. :thumbup:

Skyisthinkn 02-03-2009 03:04 AM

Good old DYI days...

GoingNuts 02-03-2009 09:00 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Having taken out the rear passenger ashtray, there were 2 plastic screws holding a tray for the ashtray. Undoing these allowed the tray for the ashtray to be lifted out, whereupon the ashtray light could be disconnected.

Underneath the tray for the ash tray, there were 2 more screws that secured the upper trim for the trays. Undoing these allowed the upper trim to be dismounted after some wiggling. When the trim was removed, the joint for the armrest became accessible. People with squeaking armrests may want to give the joint some lube. The wire was for the ashtray light.

With the gear stick gaiter lifted, there were 2 screws holding the window switch trim in place. Note the position of the plastic catches for the gaiter. There were 2 on each side.

Trim released. There were 2 wire connectors for the window switches.

Windows switches disconnected and the trim removed.

Forward of the gear stick were 2 screws holding the bottom part of the dash storage compartments. These were released.

The internal tray for the top compartment was lifted in its top center and drew out. It took several attempts of increasing pressure before it came out.

The tray and its cover was out.

Hidden above the tray were 2 screws holding the upper part of the dash storage compartments. These were undone and the compartments along with the switch panel for DSC, Heated Seats, etc could be taken out in one piece. Given the raging snow storm in my vicinity, taking out the DSC switch was foolish. This rendered the car useless in snow. I couldn't even move out of my drive way for more than 5 feet.

Behind the compartments and the switch panel were wire connectors of differing shapes. It would not be possible to reconnect these wrong given their unique shapes and matching receptacles. However the metal tabs on the cigarette lighter were similar. So note the large connector went with the gold tab, and the small connector went with the silver tab. I was guessing the large connector was for the live wire because of the bright colour scheme on the wire. I wondered if I should have disconnected the battery before playing with these wires. But I lived to tell the tale.

LABMW13 02-03-2009 09:03 PM

Very Nice write up :thumbsup:

GoingNuts 02-04-2009 12:32 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Two screws secured the radio to the dash. Undoing these allowed the radio to be pulled out from it's slot.

Two connectors were on the back of the radio. The small one was for the aerial. The rod like object in the middle was just a piece of rubber, I imagined for supporintg the back of the radio.

A pictorgram on the large connector showed how the connector could be unlocked using a flathead. So I followed the suggestion.

The radio was connected by a large number of pins. This made taking the connector off, after unlocking, difficult. Eventually I jamed the screw driver into the connector somewhere and pried it apart.

Although I didn't do this, I would recommend covering the aircon facia and the dash trim with some potection (cloth, towel, or whatever) before manipulating the radio connectors. The cables were quite tight and the radio rubbed against the trim and AC facia while being handled. This could potentially cause marks or damages.

n2Bimmer 02-04-2009 12:50 PM

dude, removing the dash is alot of work, props and good luck, Might as well just strip the whole car and put it on the track. lol.

GoingNuts 02-04-2009 12:55 PM

Yes I am think along a similar line. If I take everything out of the car, I will have nothing to rattle with. Problem solved.

jbeurotech 02-04-2009 01:01 PM

Rattle may be the airbag cover they are known to squeak and rattle. A little felt tape usually does the trick. The other rattle that people think is in the dash often comes from the hood mount stops and transmits through the firewall and dash.. Adjusting and lubing the rear hood stops often cures this problem. Good luck and nice pictures and detail have fun!!!

BavLar 02-04-2009 01:07 PM

I started reading this by myself. Now I have coworkers hanging over my shoulder wanting to see what happens next.

You're like an action hero yelling "I'm going IN". People are hanging around the forum waiting to cheer, hoping you emerge victorious!:lmao::thumbup:

02m3csl325 02-04-2009 02:33 PM

I've got 3 currently, one in each front door (I think they're broken clips that fell down into the doors from when I removed and painted my trim) and one directly in front of me which sounds like it's coming from behind the gauge cluster or possibly the steering column. I'm going to tear into these hopefully this weekend because they are driving me NUTS! Hope you find yours and thanks for the great write-ups!

GoingNuts 02-04-2009 08:00 PM

7 Attachment(s)
The hand brake gaiter was first lifted and then fed into hand brake hole in the center console.

It took a lot of pincer pinching with the hand on both sides of the phone tray trim to dislodge it from the center console. Wires were connected to inside of the phone tray and cannot be disconnected directly.

The phone tray was bolted on to its trim by 4 x T9 torx screws. To undo these, only a small precision torx screwdriver could be used. An ordinary screwdriver bit would not work because its shaft would be too big. (for UK DIYer's, a precision rolson brand torx screwdriver was available from www.maplin.co.uk for 6.99)

Once the phone tray trim was unbolted and removed, the tray was small enough so that it could be fed through the hole at the back of the center console. There was no need to disconnect the tray from the wires.

(It is recommended the hazard light and central locking switch be unplugged from underneath at this point)
It took some careful manoeuvring to lift the center console out, while ensuring the hand brake and arm rest were not damaged from scratching. The hand brake, arm rest, and the phone tray had to be fed through their respective holes in the center console all at the same time.

The console was out. But I forgot to disconnect the hazard light and central locking switch that was on the console. Luckily the plug came off all by itself from all the tugging. Once the console was removed, the phone tray could be left behind attached to its wires. Now, space was created to allow the lower center part of the dash to be backed out of the front when the time came.

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